coronavirus image via Pixabay

CRAWFORD COUNTY -- Crawford County Public Health announced the its first case of COVID-19 at a press conference on Tuesday.

"COVID-19 is now considered community spread and everybody should be taking precautions," said Kate Siefert, Crawford County's public health commissioner. "This is certainly not a surprise as the statewide numbers have been increasing.

"We are fortunate that we were able to hold out as long as we have."

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The individual is in their mid-60s and is currently isolated at home and under the care of a physician. Siefert said the health department will not be releasing any additional identifying information to respect the individual's privacy.

Public health nurses are conducting contact tracing and reaching out anyone that has been in within six feet of the individual for more than 15 minutes.

"Conducting contact tracing is done by our nurses with many other infectious diseases like measles," Siefert said. "We can assure you that our public health nurses are very thorough with their investigations."

Chris Johnson, a physician for OhioHealth in Bucyrus, said health care professionals are still figuring out who can recover at home, but recommended that anyone with with respiratory distress, shortness of breath, chest pain or breathing difficulties come in for treatment.

"If you are coughing, have a low grade fever, no shortness of breath and you're a young, healthy individual I think it's reasonable to stay at home. Certainly isolate yourself," he advised. 

Johnson also discussed the need for more tests and which individuals are most in need of testing.

"There's a shortage of tests," he said. "The tests right now are being saved for people who are high risk: people who are above over 60 years old, people with co-morbid conditions, people with fevers who are likely actively involved in the fight against the virus."

He added that individuals who work in the healthcare field, police, firefighters and first responders are also prioritized for testing.

"As providers, we want everybody tested. We want to know who has it so we can help guide people but it's just not doable at this time," he said. "There are probably hundreds of cases in Crawford County, we just can't test everyone."

Jerry Morasko, CEO of Avita Health Systems, said it takes about five days to get test results back, but that the Ohio State University is working on a test with a three-day turnaround.

Avita is operating a helpline at 419-468-0800, staffed by nurses who can answer questions about COVID-19, clarify misinformation or help a caller determine if they may need testing. The Ohio Department of Health is also operating a line at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

Officials urged viewers to practice social distancing, to take advantage of COVID-19 hotlines if they have questions and contacting a healthcare provider if they think they need tested.

"The way we're going to beat this is by avoiding spreading and keeping the numbers as low as possible," said Johnson. "We're all in this together."